Editor’s Note: Samuel K. Miller of the 211th Pennsylvania wrote 46 letters home during his time in the Union army, almost all of it spent at the Siege of Petersburg in the Ninth Corps. Miller’s great-grandson Myron M. Miller recently edited these letters in his book The Soul of a Soldier: The True Story of a Mounted Pioneer in the Civil War. Check out the review here. Mr. Miller was kind and generous enough to offer the Siege of Petersburg Online the use of these letters for the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Siege of Petersburg. A selection of Samuel’s letters will appear here at the Siege of Petersburg Online 150 years after the date they were written. These letters are the private property of Myron Miller and are used here with his express written consent. All rights reserved.
September 17, 1864 Camp Reynolds [Pennsylvania] #3
I received your letter today. Oh! but I was glad to hear from you and our little ones. How I long to see you but there is no use of talking about that yet. I am glad that you feel composed as well as you are. I am well and still in good spirits.
This evening at 4 o’clock we start for City Point, Virginia. What we will do then we are not able to tell, but I suppose will drill a while, then perhaps put into battle, but cannot tell anything about yet. I doubt our officers would be so cruel as that put us in front before we are thoroughly drilled. We also draw our guns here. There are ten companies in our regiment. The number of our regiment is 211 Pennsylvania Volunteer Company A, but will give you the proper directions when I write again and [it] will not be until we get to City Point, then we will know all about how to tell how to direct your letters.
You spoke about them bedsteads. If you wish, they may go. Let them have them at $5 each, then they can get them finished where they please.
There are a great many in camp that have the dysentery. I had a slight touch, but I am all right now. The reason why they have it so much is because they eat so much trash.
We left on Saturday night. We are now in Washington, Tuesday morning, 10 o’clock. I would like to see the boys [Benjamin and Enoch, his brothers-in-law] but cannot get a pass yet. If we stay here any time I shall go and see them. As I was going to say, we left Camp Reynolds Saturday evening at dusk, traveled all night and the next day to noon before we reached Harrisburg. Did not stop. Next place of importance was Little York. There we were saluted by the inhabitants with anxiety and welcomeness. We had what we could eat and twice as much as we could possibly consume. We gave them a hearty salute and away the iron horse rolled us onward. There were thirty-two cars loaded with dixey [Dixie] boys. Thence for Baltimore which arrived at midnight, where we were marched to the depot and there we took a good sleep on the floor. I stand it first rate. At one o’clock we started for Washington, which we arrived at 5 o’clock the same day, which was Monday.
This forenoon we was up to see the Capitol, which is the most perfect structure I ever saw, but no tongue can describe it. I would give fifty dollars if you were here to see it. It is all built of white marble, that is, the outside. The inside is all colors of marble. It is all marble, even the floors, steps. There is no wood about it all.
There is so much confusion that I cannot scarcely write but I will do the best I can. We got our government bounty pay, that is, $133.33. I will send you in this letter ten dollars, and the next letter I write I will send ten dollars more and so on until I get it all home. I bought me a pair of boots, which cost me nine dollars in Baltimore, and sold my shoes for $1.50, so my boots stands me $7.50. Silence, get the boys or some lady to get you winter wood. The weather is beautiful indeed, the roads are dusty, the sun very warm and pleasant. We have nice quarters and good grub, that is, coffee and bread and pork. Send me when an opportunity the Morning Star [a newspaper].
Silence, you may do with this money I send you what you please—dress yourself and children, and make yourself comfortable as you can. Take care of things as well as you can until I come home again. Get the cave fixed if you can. That is all I can think of. May God take care of you and watch over you when in slumber. Kiss my boys for me. I shall write again soon. Answer this soon. From your affectionate companion,
Samuel K. Miller
Direct Washington, D.C.
Company A, 211 Regiment P.V. care of Captain E. B. Lee or elsewhere1
- Miller, Myron M. The Soul of a Soldier: The True Story of a Mounted Pioneer in the Civil War. Xlibris Corporation(2011), pp. 131-133 ↩